True Beauty


King Solomon ends his book, Mishlei with the verse: “Grace is false, and beauty vain; a woman who fears Hashem, she should be praised.” In other words, you cannot praise a woman for her beauty because this is an inborn trait. However, it is appropriate to praise her for her fear of Hashem. Because a woman acquires this middah through the power of her choices.

Therefore, we have to understand how, then, our Talmudic Sages z”l describe the four most beautiful women who ever lived, one of whom was Queen Esther. How do they laud a woman for her beauty when King Solomon writes, in his wisdom, that one is not to praise a woman for her beauty but only her fear of Hashem?

Our Sages were not describing external beauty alone; they were referring to the internal grace and beauty of these women, along with the perfection of their character traits, the beauty of their wisdom and the glory of their personalities.

This is how we are meant to perceive the inner beauty of these women, who were the magnificent columns of the building of the Jewish people, in their time, and for all time. And Queen Esther, without doubt, stands above them all.

Queen Esther had the privilege of being our savior and redeemer; she succeeded in annulling Haman’s decree, as well as obtaining permission for the Jews to avenge themselves on their enemies. This is the reason that out of the most beautiful women of Israel, she, Esther Hamalka, is the most prominent. And so, we have to study her deeds, her exemplary character traits and her beautiful and wonderful personality.

Those who study the words of the Sages on Megillat Esther in depth - the Midrashim and interpretations - can learn many points regarding perfection and purity from her. However, in this short article, I will emphasize three important points that, in my opinion reveal a small degree of her personality; middot that we have to learn to acquire and internalize.

First of all, during our exiles among the nations, there have always been those who have risen to high ranks within the kingdom or government and had the power to benefit their nation. However, their concerns for themselves and their status made them fearful to act in the interests of their people, and they didn’t see or consider that perhaps the reason that they had risen to their station in the first place was to use their position to their advantage and help the Jewish people, of course, within the parameters of their abilities.

Queen Esther never forgot her nation or her kindred and risked her life in order to save them when she received her uncle Mordechai Hayehudi’s message “Who knows whether it was just for such a time as this that you attained the royal position.”

We must always remember that people were born to benefit others, especially if they’ve reached a position of power and authority. Also, the ruling non-Jews value the Jew who stands up for his people.

There’s a second thing we have to learn from Queen Esther. Mordechai wasn’t only her uncle and adoptive father, he was also one of the Torah giants and a member of the Sanhedrin. He was a wise leader in exile.

If we look deeply into words of the Megillah, and the words of our Sages z”l, we see that there were several times when Queen Esther wasn’t of the same opinion as her Uncle Mordechai, but gave in to his opinion. She accepted his words and acted according to them, even if she, herself, thought the opposite. For example, Esther didn’t tell of her people or her family, as is written in the verse. But why does the verse continue “as Mordechai had instructed her,”which indicates that had he not so instructed her, she would have mentioned them. The whole power of our nation lies in the fact that we annul our own opinions in favor of those of the wise men and leaders of our generation and, thereby, we will easily succeed. And certainly, it’s a mitzvah to show respect and listen to someone who was as good as a father or mother.

A third thing that we can learn from Queen Esther, is the power of prayer; that it’s important to preface every act with prayer. And even though Queen Esther knew what action to take and how to take it, she preceded it with whole-hearted prayer to Hakadosh Baruch Hu because any effort that a person makes, he must know that his success is dependent only on Him.”

Esther also asked the people to fast for three days before putting her plan into action, because we have to remember that the nation of Israel’s strength lies in prayer and in crying out to the Master of the Universe to bring us a miracle and salvation, and salvation is never dependent on us or our actions, only on our efforts.

Thus, Esther Hamalka, who was acting through the power of prayer, merited that a miracle was performed through her, “and the Jews had gladness and joy.”

This is what we have to learn: to use the power of our prayers and requests to our One and Unique G-d, Who loves His nation Israel. And, in the merit of Esther and her prayers and pleas, we are alive today and the nation of Israel lives!

And as He wrought miracles for our forefathers, may He do so always, and bring us the final redemption.